Without Dispensaries, Pot Patients Have Few Options

MASSACHUSETTS:  With the first medical marijuana dispensaries yet to open in Massachusetts, patients approved to use cannabis for medical purposes say they’re left with few options.

“Generally, I will say patients are experiencing confusion and frustration,” said Jamie Leaver of Sharon, a member of the patient advisory board for the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance. “The only truly legal way to obtain the medication is to grow it for yourself or have a caregiver grow for you and you only.”

The medical marijuana law that voters passed more than two years ago allows approved patients to possess a 60-day supply of marijuana, but doesn’t specify how they can obtain it.

In the absence of dispensaries, Department of Public Health regulations allow patients or their registered caregivers to grow their own marijuana. Once dispensaries open, the DPH will allow patients to apply for financial hardship exemptions to cultivate the drug for their personal medical use.

Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Program Faces Deficit Over $1 Million

MASSACHUSETTS:  The state’s medical marijuana program is projected to run a $1.17 million deficit in fiscal year 2015 despite a state law requiring the program to pay for itself, according to the program’s annual report.

Nichole Snow, deputy director of Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, a medical marijuana patient advocacy group, said the deficit “shows that the people who were in charge originally really didn’t put enough thought into it.”

Scott Zoback, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, said, “The administration is in the process of revamping a poorly functioning medical marijuana program it inherited in order to best serve patients safely and ensure the system is living up to the law passed by Massachusetts voters.”